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Mangos Are His Passion!

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ENGINE Supported capacity building leads to Successful Mango Cultivation Business

As a child, in lieu of playing with his friends, John Mwakitalu would opt to work in his family’s garden where he would “help the plants grow”. He was fascinated with the plants’ life cycles and wanted to learn more.  In pursuit of this knowledge, John attended Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, and studied with the SUGECO Business Development Services Provider (BDSP) sponsored by the USAID-funded Feed the Future Tanzania Enabling Growth through Investment and Enterprise Program (ENGINE), whom he credits for much of his success. ENGINE works to connect BDSPs and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to create linkages. Business development services, like John’s training, teach business owners valuable skills and add to their overall capacity.

Before starting his business, John received two degrees in agriculture studies and instead of seeking traditional employment, decided to start his own business in March 2014. However, it was the skills that skills he learned from SUGECO—particularly business planning, business operations and the loan application process that really took his business to the next level. John explained, “The business plan development, record keeping, accounting and profitability that I learned from ENGINE’s training with SUGECO is what gave me the boost to success”.

John now has three full time employees and twelve seasonal, part-time employees. During the growing season, John grows four types of mango saplings and his operation produces 20,000 saplings annually with an annual income of 15,000,000 Tanzanian Shillings.  John sells his mangoes all over Tanzania, but much of his business is concentrated in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma and the southern highlands.

John says, “Thanks to ENGINE, I have become an asset to my community.  Without ENGINE, my business wouldn’t be where it is today”.  He now works with other sapling suppliers, helping them to find markets for their product. As a primary component of ENGINE’s design, business development services play a key role in linking enterprises with valuable services, in order to facilitate a strong private sector.

Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition.USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.

Two IESC Field-Based Staff Members Earn University Degrees

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Jackie Howard
Jackie Howard (left) and Caroline Flowers (right) pose with their BBA diplomas. 

In 2012, Caroline Flowers and Jackie Howard spotted a flyer at their university’a flyer that would shape the next three years of their college experience and beyond. It was a flyer was soliciting interns for IESC’s USAID-funded Investing for Business Expansion Program (IBEX), which provides business loan facilitation and technical assistance and capacity building to local business and commercial bank staff.

IBEX’s internship program aims to provide mentoring and training to college and university students, in hopes of preparing them for future employment. ‘When I first heard about the IBEX mentorship and career development program on my campus, I immediately applied, believing that I would learn and one day become a professional person after my graduation,’ Caroline said. Before long, IESC hired both Caroline and Jackie, and since May of 2013, they have been supporting the IBEX program’first as interns, and later, after demonstrating their dedication and diligence, as full-time employees.

Both women indicated that they learned a great deal from their IBEX internship experiences about what it means to work in a professional environment. ‘Being a member of the IBEX team is one of the greatest opportunities for me as a student to develop professionally,’ Caroline said. And according to Jackie, ‘[The] IBEX Program. . .gives college and university students the opportunity to learn basic office procedures and professional etiquette that prepare them for the competitive job market.’

On Friday, November 27, Caroline Flowers and Jackie Howard, along with 400 of their colleagues, proudly crossed the stage at Stella Maris Polytechnic’s graduation ceremony. Both walked away with bachelor of business administration (BBA) degrees in hand, Caroline’s in management, and Jackie’s in accounting.

Caroline and Jackie have expressed their gratitude to the entire IBEX team’both in Liberia and Washington, DC’offering special thanks to Watchen Bruce, who leads the IBEX program, and her deputy, Augustus Flomo, for their ongoing mentorship.

For Caroline and Jackie, November’s graduation doesn’t signal the end of their academic pursuits’they’re aiming higher. Caroline hopes to pursue a master’s degree in financial management, while Jackie plans to pursue a master’s degree in banking and finance.


This story is made possible with the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of IESC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.